The aim of this project is to develop methodology to reveal if crocodiles are present or absent from a water body through detecting trace levels of their DNA. This early warning system is required because across Northern Australia large crocodiles are turning up in human-frequented water-bodies with increasing regularity. Crocodile attacks are not only terrible for those directly involved, but chip away at public support for the preservation of this top order predator.
Environmental DNA (eDNA) is a relatively new tool that has been shown to be effective in detecting the presence of aquatic animals at very low densities. The eDNA technique has proved successful in detecting the presence of rare or threatened species (Simpfendorfer et al, 2016), but could be equally effective in determining the presence of species that pose a risk to humans.
This project will teams up CDU scientists with the Northern Territory Department of Land and Natural Resources, The Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory.